June 4-June 15, 2019: Cape Henlopen, DE, to Annapolis, MD

Having made our decision to turn around and head back south in Atlantic City, we retraced our steps back to Cape Henlopen on June 4.  I think we might have even anchored in virtually the same spot.  The Captain checked for transmission fluid leaks as we motorsailed, and it’s fair to say we were nervous about what we would find.  We were cautiously optimistic about the amount of fluid that leaked given the fact that this was the first day we had been tracking it.  This day was 10 ¾ hours for 50.9 nm.

Here’s how you know Cape Henlopen can get some serious weather: the marker and the end of the breakwater itself have been so battered by water that they are crumbling.

We ended up staying at anchor in Cape Henlopen for two more days due to strong winds and thunderstorms in the area and in the Delaware Bay.  While the anchorage is cursed with swarming black flies, it has good holding and protection.  Since we weren’t sure what the transmission fluid leak situation was, we didn’t want to venture out into rough weather that might overtax the engine.  

While we were there, the ospreys swarmed us about as thick as the black flies.  When I heard a screechy metallic shriek from their talons grabbing the spreaders, I would pop up into the cockpit and toot the airhorn to scare them off.  However, one apparently bested me, sitting on the windex and bending it again.  In all the years we’ve had the boat we’ve never had this happen, and now twice? We may install the kind that has a bird spike on it to discourage birds using our masthead as a hunting perch.

Our route options were to either head inshore up the Delaware Bay and then down the Chesapeake Bay or to head offshore to Norfolk, the way we came up.  Given the weather, we decided to go through the Delaware Bay, through the C&D Canal, and on to Annapolis.  We weren’t getting a decent weather window for offshore travel, and going through the Chesapeake Bay would give us access to mechanics if the transmission suddenly became a critical issue.

On June 7, we left Cape Henlopen bound for Summit North Marina in the C&D Canal.  We managed to catch a fair current up the Delaware Bay, and between that and winds in the low teens, we absolutely flew.  We used the genoa and staysail together, and even though they were close hauled, we got great speed out of them.  We travelled 61.2 nm in 10 ¾ hours. 

On June 8, we left Summit North Marina and travelled the rest of the C&D Canal, which was choked with debris large and small, from sticks to railroad ties.  It was nuts.  Our forecast of 5-10 knot winds was woefully inaccurate, and when we hit the Chesapeake Bay, we sailed with the genoa in 15+ knot winds all the way to Annapolis. 

Goodbye marina, hello flotilla of flotsam and jetsam.

When we arrived in Annapolis, it was absolute bedlam.  It was a beautiful, windy Saturday, and it seemed like every boat in a 20 mile radius was right in the channel, sailing and racing and tooling around.  We did a quick pass-through of the City’s mooring field, which was full, so we pressed up the Severn River a couple of miles to our favorite anchorage in Weems Creek.  We were the only boat there, and it was blessedly serene.  This day was 10 ½ hours for 58 nm.

The next day we went back to the main mooring field and grabbed a mooring.  It was one of the more gnarly mooring attempts we’ve made, as the winds were blowing in the high teens and gusting into the mid-20s while it started to rain (of course).  The seas in the mooring field were big and confused, making for a bouncy and erratic ride.  But the Captain did a great job of getting the boat to the ball, and I did a great job of not falling off the bowsprit while successfully grabbing the mooring pendant with the boat hook and securing us to the ball.

The beauty of the “front forty” moorings is that they put you right in the heart of downtown Annapolis. It’s busy with people all the time, and there’s plenty to do and see.
Annapolis is an incredibly boat-friendly town, with little dinghy dock parks at the ends of streets all over. You can get virtually anywhere by water, then tie up to the dinghy dock and walk where you need to go. It’s neat to feel so included.

We stayed on our mooring in Annapolis through June 15.  We ate at all of our favorite restaurants and walked through the lovely old neighborhoods, particularly in Eastport. 

The town of Eastport was annexed by Annapolis in the 1950’s, but they retained their independent spirit. They have a tongue-in-cheek ensign for the “Maritime Republic of Eastport” with the motto: “We like it this way.” Their crest: two labradors holding a shield with a crab boat, a heron, a crab, and a sailboat. We saw these flags all over Eastport.

We also visited the Naval Academy, which is always a stop for us. 

I’m no architecture junkie, but I could spend all day looking at the buildings on the Naval Academy grounds. They are so ornate and solid and lovely.

We also visited the Annapolis Maritime Museum, which while small is worth the effort.  Interspersed with the fun were the usual boat life chores of laundry, refilling our diesel jerry jugs, going to the grocery store, and etc.  The days flew by in a pleasant blur, and soon it was time to keep on heading south, back to Solomons, MD.

The one serious drawback to Annapolis are the frigging ducks. They love nothing more than to perch on your dinghy and then poop all over it. And let me tell you, that’s some big, nasty poop.